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The Uyghurs: Persecuted Muslim Minority in NorthWest China

Today we take a look at the situation faced by the Uyghur people, a Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region of China, where their culture is being obliterated by the central Chinese government, first because they were deemed separatists and now,  after the September 11 attacks to the USA, also as terrorists.

Image by http://futureatlas.com/blog/

Image by http://futureatlas.com

Facing many of the same problems Tibetans have due to their religious views such as religious restrictions, forced abortions, imprisonment and execution, the Uyghurs’ (also spelled as Uygur, Uigur, Uighur) plight isn't as visible to westerners as the Buddhist's situation. In past Global Voices articles we've followed up on their situation including on how their online forums were closed by the Chinese government back in 2008, and also how the Chinese government pressures other countries to refuse asylum to those they deem criminals, much in the same way it happened with 17 Uyghur detainees in Guantanamo, who had been released but China pressured countries not to accept them.

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is also controversially known as Uyghurstan or East Turkistan, and this following video is brought to us by the Saving East Turkistan project where they point out that due to the religious persecution including forced abortions passed of as family planning and the many deaths due to nuclear testing it may be possible that the Uyghur culture will die off:

Now, the documentary video about the Uyghurs by the Stanley Foundation, where compounding the decreased numbers of Uyghurs, they have restrictions in how they can raise their children, making it virtually impossible for them to pass on their religious traditions to their offspring, creating what they call a cultural genocide:

  • Frieze Monas

    It looks like all the problems associated with the Uyghur minority group is the same problems faced throughout China regardless of their ethnicity such as religious suppression and forced abortions. Playing it up as an “ethnic minority issue” might attract more attention but it doesn’t seem to help the Uyghurs while the minority angle distorts the true problems that need a solution.

  • knights

    here we go again. Poor china, why does the usa hate you so much that they keep playing double standards. muslims in usa are branded terrorists while in china are sympathized as suppressed minorities. . . .[sigh]
    stop playing with fire because someday it will bite you. case in point, osama bin laden. . .

    • Joe H

      Isn’t it obvious why US has something against China? China is a threat to US’s place in the world.

      That said, the US doesn’t concern themselves much with Uyghurs anymore because there is no indication that they have anything against the US, just against China. It is kind of a double standard depending on how you look at it, but US looks out for US and China looks out for China. Is that any surprise? When muslims occupy land that is strategically important or has useful resources, they will be persecuted by opportunistic powers like China and US.

  • yes1

    What’s up with the whole “culture dying off” angle?

    Why aren’t people complaining that Chinese culture taking over by McDonalds and Coke?

    My personal experiences with the Uighurs have not been good. I had my wallet stolen from the Uighurs more than once in the subways (people square, shanghai). Even after I pointed out to the police the thieves the police did nothing because they were members of a privileged minority.

    Before you accuse me of being a member of the Chinese Communist Party (I am not even Chinese), please do research what other expats in China are saying about the Uighurs. Some people on the Shanghist even made a list of which subway stations the Uighur thieves lurk.

    • Joe H

      Yes1, I agree that the whole “culture dying off” angle is just outrageous spin to make the Han majority look genocidal. It feeds into the dumb Western idea of “multiculturalism”.

      I don’t know if it was a serious statement, but people aren’t complaining about Coke and McDonalds anymore because that was always a silly conspiracy theory; that it was somehow the US’s plan to take over the world via soda and fast food. It’s stupid. If Chinese resent McDonalds for being Western, they don’t buy it, and it goes away. Anyway, KFC seems way more popular these days, so they should start with boycotting that.

      Actually, I hope that doesn’t happen. I’d prefer the anti-China sentiment in the US die, and the anti-West sentiment in China die so that I don’t have to hear the stupid conspiracy theories from both sides.

  • knights

    USA’s strategy of formenting separatists

    1) split Vietnam, failed
    2) split Korea, check
    3) split Soviet Union, check, create Osama Bin Laden, check, Oooops!
    4) help Israel gain independence, hm lots of bloodshed
    5) invade Iraq, check, bloodshed
    6) invade Afghanistan, in process
    …………….ok the list is too long
    current target is China
    1) try Taiwan, if that fails,
    2) try Tibet, if that fails,
    3) try Xinjian, if that fails,
    4) move onto next target (hopefully a different country). . . .

    no wonder so many people hate the Americans!

    • Joe H

      I wish I could disagree, but the CIA list of shady dealings is so long that it’s probably naive to think that they couldn’t be involved again. It’s almost reflex at this point that whenever something is bungled up in the world, we point to the CIA as a suspect.

      No wonder people hate the Americans, but I think they are probably just as much in the dark about shady CIA missions as we are.

      • Joe H

        I’d like to append to this that there’s doesn’t really seem to be any good evidence that show that the CIA was involved in this, so I think it’s way premature to actually jump to that conclusion.

        There’s plenty of history of angst and strife in Western China to fully explain riots without necessarily having to add in CIA meddling. But we can always speculate…

  • Pingback: » Uygher Riots and India in America Terra Incognita

  • knights

    It makes me SICK everytime I hear riots in China by USA backed separatists!!!

    The greencard is attactive! The money is GOOD! people sell their souls conscience to USA. How Sad!!!

    • Matsuo

      Some people do do things to attract attention/money/greencard… But as a nominal Han Chinese, still carrying one quarter Turkic blood, I do hope this kind of nonsense conflict end for good.

      Beijing doesn’t really have a good ethnic group policy, believe me and it makes both Hans and minorities unhappy. We all have our own problems that need to be solved so blaming only one side is not fair.

      If only you know how Beijing tries to control the ordinary people of minority backgrounds, while at the same time giving them some petty benefits, you’d know what I’m talking about.

      It’s about time those policies change for the better so that such tragedies do not repeat themselves.

  • knights

    True, killing is NOT the solution. Whether the victims are hans or uighers, they are humans! there are innocent humans who do NOT deserve to die.

    Managing a country of 1.3 billion is very difficult. worse yet, other countries keep adding salt to injury. . . . [sigh]

    pray and hope for peace!

  • Charles Liu

    Here are some more comments from the Chinese bloggers fond on the translated page:

    http://zh.globalvoicesonline.org/hans/2009/07/07/3157/#comments

    “China – This is not the reality!!11

    jeff kang – Only naieve westerners will belive this BS. Chinese communist has bunch of affirmative adction, for example different population management policy that has allowed Uyghur population grow like ants, and the laws are lienent towards them, letting them to be like locusts harming cities. Brooding trouble is Chinese communist’s biggest misstep

    observer – China “oppress” Uyghurs? International media calls a horse a deer, exteremist ideology with evil intent. Don’t let this kind of news cloud your mind

    caonima – CCP is not good stuff, all you human rights groups are not good stuff either

    Look see – this article is bunch of useless lies, thou your heart is at the right place, have you no shame in writing stuff like this?

    Xinjiang ren – Kadeer does not represent Uyghurs, all the good Uyghurs busy developing Xinjiang, devloping our country, only to have a elementary-educated merchant with ill-gotten gains to make money with “Xingjian rice” in the west? And this boasting about being mother of Uyghurs, I’ve seen shamelessness, but not like this.

    Danger of the west, why are Americans now silent? You know Kadeer created this massacre, why don’t you say something, instead of pretending you don’t know?”

  • dominic

    the chinese government is a corrupt pig sty we can face the thought of animals going extinct but to say that the chinese overnment is litterealy driving the uyguhrs to extinction is sickening. And as well thinking that because of a small minority of there religion being responsible for terrorism then grading them as terroroist and as criminals is just well stuiped

  • Pingback: علی‌رغم ممنوعیت‌ها، ئویغورهای چینی لباس‌های ملی‌شان را با غرور می‌پوشند. · Global Voices به فارسی

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